REVIEW: Limited Edition Space Dunk Oreo Cookies

Ground Control to Major Tom.
Ground Control to Major Tom.
Eat Space Dunk Oreos; one has a helmet pattern on.

Oreo’s newest cookie launch seems to combine all its most recent innovation tricks into one cookie — two layers of colorful marshmallow flavored crème filling, popping candy, unique cookie designs, and a partnership sweepstakes that could send you to (near) space with Space Perspective. One thing that was not clarified is whether you are given Space Dunk Oreo to eat on the Space Perspective ship while you gaze out upon the perimeter of space, a trip that, if you chose to purchase it outright, would cost you $125,000 (not including cookies).

Right out of the package, my immediate response was, “Oooooooh, pretty.” The chosen galactic colors are vibrant pink and bright blue. These colors against the dark traditional chocolate cookie fit the galaxy motif on the pack and are a well-rounded design choice.

It doesn’t taste like the pink and blue crème have individual flavors, but both are distinctly different from the traditional Oreo filling. It’s more like marshmallow or even cotton candy. This is especially true as the included popping candy melts and explodes in your mouth. I don’t know why popping and exploding things further convince me of the “design fit” to the galaxy theme because, theoretically, you’d very much NOT want things to explode or pop in space, but it’s undeniably effective.

I’ve tasted the Trolls Oreo and Firework Oreo, which both had chocolate cookies and popping candy, but I find the marshmallow crème flavor to be a better fit with these candies.

The final element at play is the five space-themed designs imprinted on the cookies. I’m not sure if this is the case with everyone’s Oreo packages, but mine seemed to be in a distinct order. Maybe I’m a nerd, but this makes me envision a little rotating wheel of space patterns printing out cookies in a predetermined design order a la Willy Wonka, and that just sparked delight. I like the astronaut helmet one the most.

Overall, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Space Dunk Oreo. They aren’t just gimmicky tricks thrown together, but instead really seem to have been thought out and designed to fit a theme, which they do very well. The flavor, color, and texture offer enough of a different experience from the traditional Oreo that the seasonal option upcharge is nearly negligible.

Purchased Price: $4.00 (on sale)
Size: 10.7 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cookies) 140 Calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Goldfish Crisps

There have been so many flavors of Goldfish Crackers that it becomes difficult to pinpoint at any one time exactly how many are actively on the market. But there are only THREE types of Goldfish CRISPS, and that’s easier to figure out because they’re brand new, baby!

When I think of Goldfish crackers, my mind immediately goes to the classic cheddar flavor, the little orange smiley guys that are delightfully cheesy. I decided to try the cheddar flavor Goldfish Crisps first in homage. The Goldfish Crisps’ main difference from classic Goldfish Crackers is their texture. These are very light and puffy and certainly live up to the crisp namesake. They have a slightly sweet, very mild base and leave it to the seasoning powder to do the heavy lifting on flavor. The cheddar seasoning powder is pretty tasty and just salty enough to keep you coming back for return bites.

I was surprised, however, at the lack of cheesy flavor in the base until I looked it up and realized that Original Goldfish Crackers are also devoid of cheese. My bad, Pepperidge Farm! The Goldfish Crisp base seems much closer to the Original Goldfish Cracker base in flavor, but it is potato-based and contains whey. The crispy texture reminds me of Quest Protein chips, but these are much better and not as mouth drying.

My fingers dove into the schools of Salt & Vinegar and Sour Cream & Onion Goldfish Crisps next. I’ll admit I’m not an enormous salt and vinegar fan, but these seemed particularly off base. Because the base crisp has a slight sweetness, they just tasted like salt & vinegar club crackers. The vinegar flavor was way too strong, and I found it easy to stop eating them. Another thing I noticed was that all Goldfish crisps are devoid of the characteristic Goldfish Cracker “smile.” Not to worry, though, I wasn’t smiling at the salt & vinegar flavor, so I didn’t care that they weren’t smiling back.

The sour cream & onion variety, on the other hand, was downright addictive. The seasoning blend on these Goldfish Crisps was super delicious, like any classic sour cream & onion chip. They were generously seasoned (an extreme case shown below!), which added to the enjoyment. They reminded me of homemade ranch-seasoned oyster crackers. In fact, ranch would be a great line extension if anyone at Big Pepperidge happens to be reading.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed by the new Goldfish Crisps. If you assume Goldfish’s base snack business is largely aimed at children, these seem designed for an older consumer. They mean business with their strong flavor and fishy faces devoid of emotion. I’d certainly try the sour cream & onion again, in particular.

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Size: 6.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Jewel Osco
Rating: Cheddar (7 out of 10), Salt & Vinegar (5 out of 10), Sour Cream & Onion (9 out of 10)
Nutrition Facts: Per Serving (44 pieces) Cheddar 140 Calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Salt & Vinegar – 140 Calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Sour Cream & Onion – 140 Calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ruffles Flamin’ Hot Queso Cheese Potato Chips

Do you like a “Groundhog Day” movie premise as much as I do? You know, the movies centered around a character who relives the same day over and over again. You’d think once they’d done the Bill Murray classic, it would be ironic and un-original to make it again. Yet, we still have fantastic films like “Edge of Tomorrow” (the action version), “Happy Death Day” (the thriller version), “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” (the romcom version), and of course “Palm Springs” (the Andy Samberg version). All of these movies are pretty great in their own unique twist of a classic theme. In much the same way, I come to you today with a review of Flamin’ Hot Queso Cheese Ruffles. Sure, you’ve probably had a really similar chip, but now these also exist.

They have the same distinct color found on other Flamin’ Hot line extensions. The flavor is overwhelmingly cheesy and balanced very well with the heat from the pepper. In fact, I’d almost say these don’t quite live up to the spiciness of other Flamin’ Hot varieties launched recently, but I think that’s a good thing in this case. It makes them much more addictive.

I was curious how these differed from the Flamin’ Hot Cheddar Sour Cream Ruffles (the LeBron bag) currently on shelves and could only dig up one or two minor discrepancies. First, the ingredient lines between this and the LeBron version are nearly identical. Apart from a few items being in different sequential order, the Queso chips have a few extra spices (onion and garlic powder) and no sour cream or butter. If you’re thinking that difference doesn’t sound enormous, I agree with you. These chips taste A LOT like the standard Flamin’ Hot Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles, but these are much more cheese-forward and the heat packs less of a punch.

The second difference is that these have the lil’ smiley guy in the corner, designating them as a Sabritas item (also owned by Frito-Lay and largely distributed in Mexico). I don’t think this necessarily makes a difference except to possibly justify why such a similar chip could launch with a different balance of cheese and heat.

I also decided to try the original Queso Ruffles against the Flamin’ Hot Queso Ruffles. The OG lacks heat and red color but has the same strong savory cheese flavor. I think heat lovers might be slightly let down by the heat offered in the Flamin’ Hot Queso version, but I’ll double down and say again that I prefer this balance. It makes the chips far more enjoyable overall.

If I had to live one day repeatedly, I wouldn’t be upset if it included these chips. I’m docking a point for lack of originality since the formulas look to be nearly a replicate of a chip that already exists, but I can’t deny how tasty these are. Did I already say that? Oh well, déjà vu.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (13 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter

You’ve been there. It’s Saturday, and you want banana bread, but all of your bananas are green! Rats! There’s no way to rapid-ripen them, so what do you do?! Boy oh Pillsbury doughboy, does General Mills have a solution for you with its new ready-to-bake Banana Bread Batter.

Okay, maybe that scenario isn’t very realistic, but thankfully this banana bread batter is. It’s also kind of hilarious. I don’t know why a bladder bag full of bread batter is so funny, except to say that a tube of goo will always garner a giggle. The product is pretty straightforward. You simply spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray, squeeze the batter goo into the pan, try not to eat all the goo instantly because, for some inexplicable reason, this batter tastes better than most cookie doughs you’ve tried, and then bake.

The batter needs a little assistance getting into all the corners of the pan, so you need to smooth it out a bit. No big deal, and so far, this is the most effort I’ve put into the entire process aside from cutting off the bag’s tip. The first time I made this, I ignored the step in the instructions to let the batter sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking. Instead, I squeezed it out immediately after removing it from the fridge and baked it for the 60-minute recommended bake time.

When I did this, I baked the joy straight out of it. It was way overdone, had developed a thick bottom crust, was pretty dry, and lacked flavor. I was super disappointed, but it turned out the way it did because of user error. It’s reasonable to expect that a loaf of bread that needs to be baked for an hour should be checked on at around 50 minutes or so. Also, the batter tasted so good that I had to try again. I have to give you all an honest review experience!

I picked up another tube of goo to redeem myself! This time I let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before squeezing the batter into my greased loaf pan. I also decided to add mini chocolate chips because, well, morsels. I reduced the baking time to 50 minutes and checked the loaf with a toothpick for doneness. This second attempt was an enormous success. This banana bread has a natural banana flavor that is not overpowering. The texture is fluffy, almost like a cake. I would say, as compared to homemade banana bread, most homemade recipes are far more moist and sticky dense. But for how quick and easy this is (assuming you don’t have to do it twice because I did that for you), it’s pretty good! It scratches an itch!

Overall I’d say Pillsbury’s Banana Bread Batter is unique and absurdly convenient for a consumer need that I’m not entirely certain exists. But it sticks the landing with a fluffy, tasty cake bread ending. I would suggest adding mix-ins like chocolate chips, walnuts, or maybe even another real banana to jazz it up a little.

Purchased Price: $6.49
Size: 30 oz log (makes 1 loaf)
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/15 of a loaf) 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar (including 14 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Morningstar Farms Pringles Original Flavored Chik’n Fries

Morningstar Farms has teamed up with fellow Kellogg’s brand, Pringles, to bring us Pringles Original Chik’n Fries.

You might ask, “What the heck is a Chik’n Fry?” Well, it’s when you take the food that you normally feed TO chickens, mash it together, fry it up, and give it a clever name. In this case, they’ve also taken the extra step to hopefully bring more folks into the fold of plant-based foods by wrangling in the Pringles brand. These pairings are tactful, and the results can be very successful. I tend to enjoy Morningstar Farms’ plant-based breakfast patties and spicy chik’n products, so I was hopeful when picking these up.

(Before baking, banana for scale. I did not bake the banana.)

Upon first impression, I found these chik’n fries to be small and narrow, similar in size to fast food chicken fries I’ve tried in the past. I don’t have an air fryer, so I followed the standard oven instructions. Based on what my in-laws keep telling me, I’m sure these would have tasted better if blessed by the holy burps of an air fryer, so maybe someone else can try that and let us know in the comments.

The fries came out of the oven a nice golden brown and glistening slightly. They smelled great and had developed a crunch on the exterior. Ketchup clung to the side without any trouble and without bending the fry.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of the appetizing attributes ended. If I closed my eyes, you could convince me I’d bitten into a fish stick with years of freezer burn. They were very, very bland. The crunchy coating was fine but definitely under-seasoned. Aren’t Pringles salty? And speaking of Pringles, the ingredient line on these Pringles Original Chik’n Fries lists “potato chips,” but as I’m sure regulars of this site are already aware, Pringles are potato CRISPS. Were Pringles even used? Then again, if they were, and Pringles are re-formed dried potatoes, does that mean they formed Pringles just to crush them back up again and encrust this bland rectangle? The world may never know.

The texture of these plant-based chik’n fries was on par with Morningstar Farms products. They have developed a nice layered matrix that resists when you bite just enough to simulate something close to a chicken nugget. The inside appearance gives itself away as plant-based pretty quickly, but I don’t think that matters as much for some reason.

Overall, I just wish these tasted better. With a co-brand like Pringles, I was expecting some irresistible savory flavors, but I didn’t find it in either the coating or the chik’n. Maybe they’ll do better with the Scorchin’ Cheddar Cheeze flavor expected later this fall. But even as a type that, I realized “Cheeze” is spelled with a Z, meaning it’ll probably be a non-dairy flavor powder. We can hope for the best, I suppose.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 13.5 oz bag
Rating: 5 out of 10
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Nutrition Facts: (about 5 pieces) 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 670 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.